Citizens demand new hearings after General Assembly Committee lasts until 5 a.m.

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DENVER -- It is considered a record for the General Assembly -- holding a committee meeting that lasts until 5 a.m.

“This is absolutely absurd for this to be happening,” Luanne Flemming said.

Flemming and her sisters were forced to stay at the State Capitol from noon on Thursday until 5 a.m. on Friday to testify for their bill regarding probate reform. The bill was heard in the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee.

After nearly 17 hours of being at the Capitol, the bill was voted down with only one lawmaker supporting it.

“We need to have another hearing. This is so unfair to the public,” Flemming said. “They were yawning and one lawmaker fell asleep."

Flemming believes that because lawmakers have four months to debate and vote on bills, citizens should not have to endure such late-night meetings.

The Flemmings weren’t the only family impacted by the Legislature’s actions.

Denny Benton said his 91-year-old father could barely speak by the time he was called to testify. Benton said the bill could impact his dad greatly.

“How do you explain to your dad that he might be moved out of his house,” Benton said.

Additionally, the late actor Peter Falk’s daughter Catherine was forced to testify out of order because she had to catch a flight. Falk is a national champion for probate reform after a public battle she endured regarding custody and visitation rights for her father.

As for why lawmakers decided to stay late, Rep. Daniel Kagan, the committee’s chairman, said he “understands” why witnesses and supporters are upset.

“You don’t have much of a choice,” Kagan said. "We don’t bury bills in Colorado."

Lamwakers are set to leave town Wednesday and are under pressure to make sure every bill at least gets a hearing. Officials with the Legislative Council office said the late-night sessions had a minimal impact on taxpayers as most of the staff are salaried employees.